Since the 7 December announcement of the National “Ideas Boom” by the Turnbull Government there have been very exciting changes in the innovation and start-up space in Australia. Eighteen04 is actively participating in many areas at a local level, translating the national policy agenda into action on the ground in the Hunter Region.

On the National level it was my pleasure to testify on behalf of Eighteen04 at the Joint Select Committee on Trade and Investment’s Inquiry into Australia’s Future in Research and Innovation on 8th March in Sydney. At this public hearing I raised the issue that a large quantum of innovation and research happens in fact in the private sectors, in particular startups, which have the ability to commercialise research and innovation quicker than the traditional research organisations.  Eighteen04 believes the best way to help this innovation is to support the hubs and organisations that support entrepreneurs to commercialise innovation.  In the formulation and support of such hubs it is important to leverage off regional strengths, such as Clean Tech and engineering in Newcastle, by funding regional Tech Hubs in given geographical areas and encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and startups to relocation. 

At the local level we are pleased to be able to welcome James Giblin as the full-time CEO of Eighteen04. James is working hard towards growth of the co-working space and in particular is actively seeking grant funding that will assist us to move to a new, larger home for Eighteen04 in line with our strategic growth plans. It is a great step forward to have a full-time CEO to spearhead our operational plans and we wish James every success in his endeavours.

In other Smart City developments, I have been working closely with Engineers Australia and their College of Engineering Leadership and Management (CLM). The Engineers Australia Division in Newcastle is one of the oldest in Australia and the only non-capital city Division thanks to Newcastle’s historical technology driven background. It is very exciting to see the CLM College in Newcastle become the first in Australia to convene a Smart City Forum for Engineers Australia and we look forward to the opportunity for Newcastle to lead the Nation in Smart City initiatives. Engineers Australia is Australia’s largest professional organisation and there are many opportunities for spreading the story about Newcastle and Smart Cities.

For Eighteen04 it is early days but there are many promising activities and encouraging developments that indicate that our future will be a bright one.

Dr Gunilla Burrowes, Chair